DAGUPAN City, Pangasinan, Dec. 11, 2014—The president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) reminds Christians that they are called to help rid the world of the evils of human trafficking.
In a recent pastoral letter, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas stresses it is a Christian duty to do everything to prevent anyone from being trafficked, and to make sure “those who have fallen into the traffickers’ trap are set free and are able to come home and resume their normal lives with their families, friends, and community”.
“As serious a duty this is of individual Christians, even more serious is it the duty of the State and society,” he notes.
The prelate points out that charity and compassion demand that “Christians exert every effort to free human traffickers from the motives and attractions of their illicit trade and to draw them back to genuinely good and beneficial pursuits”.
“To drown evil in an abundance of good, and convert the wrongdoer into a source of good is the ultimate triumph we should aim for in this fight,” he shares.
Reflecting on Genesis 4:19 in which the Lord questions Cain on Abel’s whereabouts, Villegas asks, “Where is your brother or sister who is enslaved? Where is the brother and sister whom you are killing each day in clandestine warehouses, in rings of prostitution, in children used for begging, in exploiting undocumented labor?”
“Seeing how this evil has spread and threatens to scatter the flock, we can only cry with the Good Shepherd, ‘This cannot go on! It must stop!’” he says.
According to the prelate, God wishes all the faithful to be free.
“Even now, God speaks to us as He did to those who suffered under the lash in Egypt: ‘I saw the affliction of my people and have heard their cries; set my people free!’ (Ex 3:7-8)” he adds.
Villegas explains the Lord came down to die on the Cross in order to set His people free, not only from the bondage of sin, but also from the evil one that preys on every human weakness and vulnerability of the individual and society.
“‘We have been bought at a great price’ (cf. 1 Cor 6:20), Scripture reminds us, and we cannot allow anyone to enslave another whom our Lord, by his death and resurrection, has set free,” he declares. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)